5 tech trends to watch


In the second quarter of 2018, the arc of tech innovation continues to grow steeper, making it an exciting time for the industry. Here are some of the most notable tech trends and storylines we expect to see play out throughout the year.

Demands for more bandwidth will continue

Not only will Ethernet bandwidth demands continue to increase, but 100-gigabit Ethernet will become recognized as the new norm, replacing 10-gigabit as the standard for “ultra-high performance” networks. And it's not just large enterprise-level businesses driving demands. Small and medium-sized businesses in the manufacturing, health care and hospitality industries, especially those with multiple locations, now are demanding faster internet speeds. Many West Michigan restaurants and hotels are relying on fast internet speeds to amplify the customer experience.

Enterprise-level businesses will embrace managed services

Keep an eye on the increased adoption of managed services at the enterprise level. Managed services, which allow businesses to outsource IT services to a single-source provider, no longer are just for small and mid-sized companies that may not have dedicated staff to support IT operations. As more companies increase their number of remote sites and branch locations, the value of not having to manage and maintain IT services becomes even more valuable.

Centralized network management will become mainstream

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) are becoming more mainstream this year. SDN and SD-WAN solutions let businesses manage their networks, systems and costs across multiple locations or data centers. Remote management options let users push policies across the network to single or multiple sites and configure traffic routing across the network to optimize efficiency. The combination of improved performance and management efficiency is appealing; expect the benefits of better application performance, shorter deployment cycles and greater business agility to spur rapid adoption.

Gigabit speeds will become more accessible

Demand for gigabit speeds over coaxial cable will grow and become widely available thanks to advancements in DOCSIS 3.1 technology. DOCSIS 3.1 provides companies with the opportunity to achieve 1-gig speeds over their existing network — without the costly and disruptive construction of a new network. Earlier this year, this new technology became available in Grand Rapids and Holland, giving small and medium-sized businesses the flexibility to jump up to 1-gig speeds without the costs of a fiber solution.

Companies will choose reliability over speed

Despite the ever-increasing thirst for bandwidth, we expect to see businesses demand greater reliability from their network providers. While bandwidth demands and expectations of faster service have grown in response to a world that is increasingly dependent on digital technology, that same dependence has heightened the need for service that is reliable. The cost and productivity loss of an outage or interruption can be significant, even crippling. Strong network infrastructure is important, as is high-quality tech support. But to ensure connectivity at all times, businesses are taking a more proactive approach to establishing a reliable redundancy plan. Some technology providers are rolling out scaled down redundancy solutions that have previously only been available for large enterprises. Expect to see those services and technologies increase throughout 2018.

If there's one theme that unites all these trends, it's improvement — better, faster, more reliable and more affordable solutions. For businesses and consumers who rely on game-changing new tech services and solutions, the aforementioned tech trends will continue to support them in their development of innovative ideas, technology and applications.

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